We’ve heard government officials make a lot of questionable claims to try to get Apple and Google to not encrypt data on their smartphone platforms. However, this might be the most ridiculous and shameless scare tactic we’ve seen anyone use yet. The Guardian brings us word that former NSA general counsel Stewart Baker is now claiming that Apple and Google shouldn’t encrypt their smartphones’ data because they’ll end up like BlackBerry.
“Blackberry pioneered the same business model that Google and Apple are doing now — that has not ended well for Blackberry,” said Baker, who went on to explain that BlackBerry has been throwing away potential government customers in Russia and China by offering phones that are too hard to hack. “They restricted their own ability to sell. We have a tendency to think that once the cyberwar is won in the U.S. that that is the end of it — but that is the easiest war to swim.”
This is, of course, a ridiculous claim. BlackBerry’s top-notch security is really one of the few things that’s kept it afloat during tough times — after all, world leaders such as Barack Obama, Angela Merkel and David Cameron all use BlackBerry devices because no other devices meet their governments’ security requirements.
Furthermore, BlackBerry’s major stumbles had little if anything to do with encryption — the company was caught completely off guard by the importance of fostering a huge mobile app ecosystem and it also badly underestimated companies’ willingness to let employees bring their own devices to work. BlackBerry has had a lot of problems, to put it mildly, but encryption wasn’t one of them.